16 November 2006
SHAMEK FARRAH AND FOLKS - LA DEE LA LA
Reed player Shamek Farrah ranks with the great unrecorded. Two releases on Strata East in the ‘70s, some for RA, a release in ‘95. The reissue of this 1978 recording for RA by Quadraphonic Sound Module reintroduces a roomful of rarely heard musicians, along with a young Malachi Thompson. Roger Howell’s congas and Lenny King’s percussion give the music a tropical feel, while Saeed Amik’s quick luscious piano harmonies blossom all over the music.
The disc opens with the title track. Preceding the '80s African jazz boom, “La Dee La La” features a lush, easygoing composition and arrangement, not unlike Abdullah Ibrahim’s gentle Cape Town swing. After a bracing acapella chorus intro, pianist Saeed Amir introduces the chords, Lenny King and Roger Howell hit the hand drums, and Ghanniya Green sings the theme. Guitarist Harry Jenson plays silky rhythm, while Farrah’s playful soprano sax composes festive variations. Playing a vocalesque plunger mute, trumpeter Abdullah Khalid makes a soulful statement, followed by Amir’s elegant variations.
Moving into a warmer hemisphere, “Waiting for Marvin” sees Amik’s effervescent piano dance over the joyously grooving rhythm section. Farrah serves ripe alto, twisting through the changes. Thompson romps his full-toned trumpet around the festive sounds, followed by Amik’s cool, refreshing inspirations. The orchestra returns to take it out. Some shuffling on “White Lady” brings Sonelius Smith to the piano chair. Sans percussionists, the band just swings with Farrah taking the first solo. Smith plays chords blocks, as opposed to Amik’s blending shimmer. Thompson soars again, casually taking chances. Smith solos with deliberation, poking out the right handed notes.
Jenson’s limber electric guitar slyly welcomes the listener to “And Along Came Ron Rahsaan.” With King and Howell back, Farrah blows soprano, making way for Marvin Neal’s meaty trombone solo. With Vivian Chandler singing wordlessly, Amik builds a final graceful musical lattice.
Thanks to the all-inclusive reissue mania of the CD format, Shamek Farrah and Folks return to delight a new and larger audience, timelessly, almost thirty years later.
By Rex Butters@ AllAboutJazz
Track Listing: La Dee La La Song; Waiting for Marvin; the White Lady; And Along Came Ron Rahsaan.
Personnel: Shamek Farrah, alto sax, soprano sax; Grant Reed, tenor sax; Abdullah Khalid, trumpet; Malachi Thompson, trumpet; Marvin Neal, trombone; Saeed Amik, piano; Sonelius Smith, piano; Hasan Jenkins, electric bass; Kiyoto Fujiwara, acoustic bass; Ron Rahsaan, drums; Ayon Falu, drums; Roger Howell, conga; Lenny King, bongos and percussion; Harry Jenson, guitar; Ghanniya Green, vocal; Vivian Chandler, vocals